Council accused doing 'sweet FA' to back bid for new QEH
- Credit: QEH/Norfolk County Council/Sarah Hussain
A row has broken out at West Norfolk Borough Council after the authority was accused of not doing enough to support the campaign for a new hospital for King's Lynn.
The Conservative leader of the council, Stuart Dark, was told by independent councillor Alun ‘Tom’ Ryves there was a perception that the council had done "sweet F.A." to secure a new Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
A campaign is currently under way calling for the ageing hospital to be replaced. Parts of the roof at the building are supported by more than 200 props to prevent it collapsing and bosses there are facing an anxious wait to find out if it will be among eight new-build hospitals approved by the government out of 120 expressions of interest.
Mr Ryves’ comments were made during a council meeting on Tuesday, when he said the authority seemed “very shy of discussing” the QEH “and very shy of getting involved”.
“There is a view that we as a council have done sweet F.A. to support the QEH’s situation,” he added, after pointing out he was not aware of any council cabinet member attending the weekly protests held in support of a new hospital.
He asked why the council had not erected signage to engage the borough’s residents and visitors, “including one very distinguished old lady, and her late husband” - and why the council had not written to residents to encourage support for the petitions to government about the issue.
He said the “council should be doing a lot more than working behind the scenes”.
Mr Dark said the accusation was “unfair”, adding: “If you look at the briefings that you have from the QEH and the public statements… they regularly comment on the support this council’s officers, and this administration, have given them.”
“If you look at the petition with 15,500 signatures on it, that was actually brought before the current secretary of state [for health], that was started by this council…
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“If you look at the visit of Matt Hancock - and I know there were issues with that individual - but I attended that visit personally, and lobbied for it.”
He also pointed to a letter sent by the borough council and Norfolk County Council, to which the government had responded.
MPs who met with health secretary Sajid Javid had, Mr Dark said, commented on the council’s “strong level of support” too.
He finished by saying Mr Ryves’ claim was “basically just opportunism and trying to score a few points, and I think it is actually despicable”.
Almost 10,000 people have signed an EDP petition calling for a new hospital at tinyurl.com/ycxs6nfn